Jamaican dollar makes more gains

NCB had the highest net sale of US$ on Friday

The rate of exchange for the United States and Jamaican dollar inched further in favour of the local currency on Friday as dealers sold US$42.2 million at an average rate of $127.99 on Friday, down from an average of 128.126 with the sale of $67 million on Thursday.
On Friday, dealers bought US$37.38 million at an average of $126.74, a decline from $127.38 with the buying of US$61 million on Thursday.
Dealers bought $45,56 million in all currencies on Friday and sold US$50.28 million compared to purchases of US$77.6 million and sale of US$82.5 million on Thursday. Thursday’s trading includes the buying of Can$19.7 million and sale of Can$19.4 million.
Major net sellers of US dollars on Thursday are, Citibank with the purchase of US$160,000 and sale of US$1.65 million, First Global Bank buying US$271,000 and selling US$1.96 million. JMMB Bank ended with the buying of US$839,000 and selling $3.6 million, JN Bank purchased $868,000 and sold $2.48 million, Victoria Mutual Building Society bought $720,000 and sold of $2.45 million but First Caribbean purchased $5.6 million and sold just $1.38 million.
On Friday, Bank of Nova Scotia purchased $9.2 million and sold just $5 million, First Caribbean Bank bought US$813,000 and sold US$1.3 million, JMMB Bank ended buying US$1.87 million and sold $4.8 million, JN Bank purchased $1.16 million with sales of $1.87 million. National Commercial bought US$3.56 million and sold $8.5 million, Sagicor Bank bought $852,000 while selling US$1.99, Victoria Mutual Building Society purchased $693,000 and sold $1.3 million but Citibank purchased US$1.7 million and sold just US$587,000.

J$ revaluation leads to more US$ selloff

On Tuesday dealers purchased US$39.6 million from the public at $127.50 and sold $44.86 million at an average of $128.63 down from $128.93 on Monday.
On Monday, Bank of Nova Scotia bought US$14.27 million and sold $11.68 million on Monday and on Tuesday bought US$5.6 million and sold $10.1 million while National Commercial Bank bought US$8.66 million and sold US$18.95 million on Monday and on Tuesday bought $4.1 million and sold $9.5 million. Sagicor Bank bought US$1.96 million but sold $9.92 million on Monday and on Tuesday purchased $787,000 and sold $1.89 million. JN Bank sold $6 million on Tuesday having bought just $1.6 million and Victoria Mutual Building Society bought US$3.1 million and sold just $347,000.
In foreign exchange trading, dealers in total bought US$56.13 million and sold $73.36 million, representing a net sale of US$17 million on Monday. Purchases of all currencies on Monday amounted to US$60.64 million and selling of $76.95 million and on Tuesday, purchases of all currencies amounted to US$45.44 million and selling of $59.3 million. Including in the trade was the purchase of can$4.68 million and sale of Can$17.16 million.
The sell off of US dollar is unlikely to be coming from stock piling of foreign currency and may be coming from banks selling the currency short hoping to buy back at a lower price in the winter months when the supply is expected to be higher. The financial institutions are also earners of foreign exchange from loans, bonds and fees on foreign currency accounts and would have some of these to sell.

NCB Q2 profit rises 22% before tax

 

NCB Head Quarters in Kingston Jamaica.

NCB Financial Group recorded an increase of 17 percent in net profit of $11 billion for the six months ended March 2018 over the prior year, pretax profit for the six months was up just 1 percent.
Profit for the March quarter before taxation, rose a strong 22 percent over the similar quarter in 2017 to $8.26 billion but with taxation more than doubling profit after tax climbed just 9 percent to $6.4 billion.
Net operating income grew 22 percent to $35.3 billion over the prior year and 26 percent for the latest quarter. Improvements in foreign currency and investment activities 109 percent in the quarter to $4 billion and by 97 percent in the six months period to $7.2 billion. Net interest income increasing by $1.3 billion or 9 percent and was driven by the consolidation of Clarien Group (CGL). Net fee and commission income grew by 11 percent or $749 million, mainly as a result of higher transaction volumes for point of sale and e-commerce channels, increased investment banking and pension fee income and the consolidation of CGL. Operating Expenses excluding loan loss provision rose 30 percent to $24.5 billion for the half year and 29 percent to $11.5 billion for the quarter.
The Group’s loans and advances, net of provision for credit losses, increased by $127 billion or 61 percent to $334 billion to March. In addition to the consolidation of CGL, the president Patrick Hylton reported that “there was growth in all business segments’ loan portfolios: retail up 22 percent, corporate up 11 percent and credit card receivables up 25 percent. Nonperforming loans totalled $15 billion up from $5.9 billion at the end of March 2017.” The increase was due to the inclusion of CGL which has a non-performing loan ratio of 9.9 percent.
NCB declared a dividend of 70 cents stock unit. The dividend is payable on May 28, for stockholders on record at May 11. The stock closed at $95 on the Jamaica Stock Exchange before the results were released.

FCIB 2nd Caribbean bank to abort US listing

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FirstCaribbean aborts IPO for NYSE listing.

Firstcaribbean International Bank (FCI) announced that they have withdrawn their planned initial public offering ahead of its plan to list on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange advised today, that they received notice from FCI advising of the withdrawal of the US registered public offering and listing of its shares on the NYSE in view of market conditions at this juncture. FCI had filed a registration statement in December 2017 relating to this public offering and proposed listing on the NYSE under the symbol “FCI”.
The company is the second Caribbean based banking group to have moved forward with plans to list on that stock exchange. The first was NCB Group in 2013, incurring a $680 million hit from the costs relating to aborted Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the 2013 fiscal year to September, according to the company’s audited financial statements.
The banking group was attempting to raise fresh capital in the international market, during the turbulent period ahead of the country reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The amount involved was written off against income thus helping to depress profits for the year.

NCB lost $700M in its aborted NYSE IPO plans in 2013.

Since then NCB has gone on to report record profits in 2017 with a 28 percent increase in the first quarter to December last year. At the same time FCIB that struggled for several years as it was battered by Caribbean countries in deep recession only saw a rebound in fortunes in recent years.
In 2013, the FCIB group adjusted profit was just US$35 million rising to $83 million in 2014 and onto $123 million the following year then $143 million in 2016 and $151 million last year, but revenues have just barely grown as loans have stagnated with US$6.36 billion in 2017 from US$6.3 billion in 2013.

Minority owners disrupt NCB’s Guardian offer

NCB Financial Group has advised that the offer to acquire up to 62 percent of Guardian Holdings shares lapsed due to failure for condition 2.4.5 of the Offer.
The conditions in summary stipulates that the conclusion of the offer is subject to there being no action instituted or threatened or investigation by government or its bodies or legal action that may delay the completion of the offer or make it illegal.
At the end of Friday 23rd February, there are terms and conditions of the Offer which remain outstanding a release from NCB stated, as such and in accordance with the provisions of the Securities Industry (Take-Over) By-Laws, 2005 the Offer lapsed.
The latest tally of offers received showed 535 Guardian shareholders tendered approximately 91,743,975 shares which, together with the NCB existing shareholding, represents approximately 70.24% of the outstanding GHL Shares. No shares deposited have been taken up by the Offeror.
NCB future states that the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission has decided to convene a hearing in accordance with the provisions of the Securities Act, 2012 in respect of the facts and circumstances surrounding the Offeror’s equity interest in GHL and the issuance of the Offer Circular.

Main market stocks can gain 40% in 2018

Chart of main market showing the market trading in an upward sloping channel with the market currently trading just below the upper resistance line.

Last year was a great one for Jamaican stocks but an assessment of the market suggests that 2018 could be a grand year as well with overall price gains likely to be in excess of 40 percent.
Based on projected earnings for 2018, the average PE ratio suggests that the main market stock prices should grow by 26 percent. Falling interest rates could add another 20 percent to gains during the year, bringing overall gains to be in excess of 40 percent.
Technical readings of the market have the main market heading initially to around 390,000 points or 23 percent ahead of the December close, for the all Jamaica Index, before resistance sets in, before moving much higher, later on.
Currently, the main market is caught in a wedge and trading just below the upper end of channel that can be traced to late 2015. The wedge could hold the market in consolidation mode for a short time, a month or two, before breaking out, most likely to the upside. (See Chart of market index.)
Last year was a great one for Jamaican stocks, with 14 of the 64 ordinary shares of companies that were listed prior to the December new listings, rising 100 percent or more and 16 rising between 50 and 81 percent.
IC Insider.com projects that many of the main market heavy weights will find it tough to repeat the strong gains they enjoyed in 2017, if that is the case, their impact on the market index is likely to be less than for 2017. Another factor that could make a repeat of 2017 tough, is the movement of interest rates. Last year, Treasury bill rates fell 29 percent from 6.56 percent to 4.83 percent, that level of decline, is unlikely to happen in 2018, even as some of the decline in the latter part of 2017 is yet to be fully reflected in the prices of stocks to date and should positively affect prices in 2018. IC Insider.com is forecasting rates on 182 days Treasury bill hitting 3 percent by the end of the 2018 first quarter. New listings could help move the indices in 2018, the likely impact is unknown at this point.
There are a number of other factors at play that are set to impact the market. Increasing employment is taking place with the highest number of persons employed in the country’s history. Attendant with that is the sharp fall in unemployment from more than 16.3 percent in 2013, to just over 10 percent in 2017. The annual net employment is growing around 30,000 persons per year and that could rise as the economy gains steam. This will mean more spending and increased tax collection for government. Alpart resumption of Alumina production is a big positive for the overall economy, for increased government revenues and more demand for local goods and services, some of which are provided by listed companies. The tourism sector is enjoying strong growth, apart from increasing foreign exchange intake for the country, will have direct impact on Jamaica Producers and Sagicor X Fund. Jamaica seems to be going through a construction boom with several new buildings under construction, Caribbean Cement and Berger Paints should benefit considerably from such developments.
Lower interest rates will reduce cost for many companies and revaluation of the Jamaican dollar also means lower cost but could result in lower revenues in some cases. More listings on the stock market will result in increased fee income for JSE and brokerage houses, from increased trading volumes.
The TOP 10 stocks include a few surprises while there are others that sit just outside the top stocks that investors may still want to keep a keen eye on. Investors should be looking beyond 2018 as medium term gains beyond 2018 could be strong for stocks that will benefit from current developments long term.
The TOP 10 selection is selling well below the average PE of the Main market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange at just over 6.3 versus nearly 12 at the end of 2017. The hallmark of successful investing is buy low so one can sell high that is why the huge discount of the TOP 10 make them compelling choices. Successful investing is to work to be on top of the market so current sexy stocks are not the ones likely to be in the IC Insider.com’s list.
Barita Investments has moved more into fee based income and that is working well for them, with sharp growth, while net interest income stagnates. The prospects for continued strong growth in fee income continues with more investors seeking better returns than in the fixed interest market. The company should see a change in ownership soon and that could see a more aggressive approach to management that could optimize returns from exiting business and newer lines. Unrealized gains on investment ought to be factored into its earnings in valuing the stocks and that would boost its value considerably, the market is not paying attention.
Berger Paints is set to be a big winner with increasing sales coming from a buoyant construction sector resulting in increased profit and what IC Insider.com expects to be a healthy dose of dividend payments. It could become the next Carreras from a dividend yield standpoint but with growing profits. The company will benefit from lowering of overhead cost which was evident in 2017.
Jamaica Broilers continues to grow organically and from new business being acquired. Growth will continue as the Haitian market deliver greater returns form a growing market while the poultry demand in Jamaica continues to grow.
Caribbean Cement will benefit from lower operating cost, increased sales and a planned cut in financing of the lease which is said will cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of it cost that could come close to $2 per share per annum.
Palace Amusement Company, currently enjoying sell out cinemas with block busters hit is one of those unusual choices. It enjoys minimal trading but it could surprise on the upside if all goes well. Growth in the economy and increased employment will help to boost patronage going forward and will aid in profit growth as well.
JMMB Group put out outstanding Q3 results with a 39 percent increase in profit and strong gains in revenues, auguring well for 2019 outcome.

JMMB Group Q3 profit jumped 39% in 2018

The growth potential remains strong and investors in the stock will reap rich rewards down the road. Just one stock that requires patience. By the way fees and commission income jumped an impressive 71 percent to $512 million in the quarter and 53 percent in the nine months, over the similar period in 2016 and should continue to do so going forward.
Radio Jamaica continues to disappoint with below expected revenues and profit. It could return to favour but needs to generate more income from advertising. This is one to accumulate for a payoff down the road.
The other three stocks, Sterling Investments, Grace Kennedy and Sagicor Group are undervalued and could deliver some decent returns to patient investors.
Below the TOP 10 are strong candidates to deliver decent returns this year and beyond, the list includes NCB Financial that is on a strong growth trajectory and recently listed Wisynco Group that should generate earnings around $1.10 for the 2019 fiscal year that starts in July.

NCB customers’ caustic comments

Banks in Jamaica make huge profits in a country with most person’s earnings just allowing them to meet minimum living standards, if not less. In short, banks are not loved as people think they prey on them.
Some responses to IC Insider.com’s article on NCB Financial‘s first quarter results to December last year was revealing and indicate that the bank has much work to do to appease its customers. The reality is that a visit to banks on a typical day is a journey in frustration for many, even at a time when electronic banking is on the rise.
One major outcry of many in recent times has been that bank charges for some services and the most vexing of all is the charge for dormant accounts. A big part of the problem seems to be that these large financial institutions don’t communicate well with customers and for other they feel that big banks don’t care.
The complaints we had online relate to customer service generally— long waits for service in the banking hall and poor online experience.
We list edited versions of the main comments. “Their customer service is the worst. I’m in NCB Spanish Town from the opening at 8.30, at 10.33 I am still to get through. Any time one comes to NCB just don’t have any other plans for the day.”

Sagicor Bank after more than 6 months have not reversed erroneous charge on credit card account.

Referring to the multi-billion profit, one reader said “none of it is going to customer service… They still have the worst customer service in my opinion, both online or in line.
And yet another said, “that is expected, considering that interests rates on credit cards are 40 percent and interest on savings is 0.4 percent. In order to get that interest rate, the deposit has to be at least $50,000. The same customer complained about waiting. “Customer service is the worst. I waited over an hour recently to speak to a rep. Sad…can’t wait to find another option.”
And yet another had this to say, “it’s a pity that their online banking is so poorly constructed and maintained, that beyond getting a statement, it’s virtually useless. They questioned as to the reason why the Midas Card cannot be used to pay bills online?
Another “they don’t think people have anything to do. The customer service rep moves really slowly and them need more. BNS Spanish is much better when it’s comes to customer service.”
“ I don’t have an account with them and never will from what I heard time and again to be the worst bank” and the last is one from someone who is not a customer, “I don’t have an account with them and I don’t want one.
While the responses are from a few persons, a visit to most banks will confirm that they reflect the concerns of many Jamaicans. Then, the banks will say they want customers to migrate to online banking but if customers are having problems there as well, the problem may be much bigger than the bank results suggest.
The case is told of Sagicor Bank, payment on a credit card was done in July 2017, on time to two accounts. The payment for one was correctly credited but not the other, although both were paid with one cheque. After more than two weeks, the bank credited the account but the late fee was not reversed and up to February of this year, it still has not been reversed after several contacts with the bank about it. It is difficult to understand why the bank, having determined that an error is made by them, doesn’t automatically correct the charges.

NCB & LascoFin close acquisitions

NCB Financial and Lasco Financial are reporting conclusion of the acquisition of their new subsidiaries.
NCB Financial acquisition of the majority shares in Bermuda’s Clarien Bank that was subject to regulatory approval by the Bermudan authorities is concluded.
Clarien has assets just over U$1.16 billion and reported profit of US1.2 million for 2016 before incurring an overall loss when other comprehensive loss is factored in, netting a loss of US$572,000 for the year. Results were weighed down by impairment losses on loans amounting to US$8.6 million in the year compared to US$9.2 million in 2015.
Lasco Financial advised that Scotia Group Jamaica has completed the transfer of Scotia Jamaica Microfinance Company Limited to the company. No details of the purchase price is mentioned but Scotia Group reported on the balance sheet as of October, assets held for sale amounting to $664 million which most likely represent the assets of CrediScotia.

NCB’s next stop Republic Holdings?

The price of US$2.45 offered by NCB Financial‘s for 32 percent more ownership in Guardian Holdings, is below the price the stock is trading at on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange of TT$18 or US$2.67. 
They need not worry, as they are virtually assured of getting the amount needed, based on the interest that Chairman Arthur Lock Jack has influence over in the Group. The acquisition of the added Guardian shares, will give the bigger NCB control over 2.6 million shares or just over 1.6 percent in Republic Financial Holdings, up from 2.17 million units in 2016, in Trinidad’s largest banking group. But that would be the start of a much bigger prize, that of control over Republic Holdings. Acquiring control of Republic while much more costly that the case of Guardian, will not be too difficult, as the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has directive over a large portion of Republic.
Clico Trust holds 40 million shares or 24.69 percent of Republic, the trust has a finite life of 10 years ending in 2021, while an addition 9.98 percent is held by CLICO Investment Bank (In liquidation) and Colonial Life owns 11.786 million units or 7.26 percent. All three amounts are subject to the direction of the Government of Trinidad who will be willing to sell to the right candidate, but the Colonial Group held 51 percent prior to the Government taking over some of the assets of the group.
The early target would be the Clico’s holdings, an amount set aside to compensate creditors in the Colonial Group. Sale of the Republic shares would allow for liquidation of the trust fund with investors getting an early exit and give NCB Financial an ownership level that would allow for booking any such acquisition as an associate.
Acquiring majority shares in Republic won’t be as easy as Guardian Holdings, while the capitalization of the latter is TT$4, Republic is now over TT$16 billion. NCB currently has assets at the end of September is US$5.5 billion but Republic assets are US$10.3 billion. Earnings per share for Republic at September 2016 was 88 us cents climbing in 2017 to US$1.16.
NCB Group total assets with the acquisition of majority shares in Clarien Bank will be in the region of US$7.6 billion and with majority shares in Guardian US$12 billion.
Acquisition of majority shares in Republic would give NCB a footprint in a number of Caribbean countries that the Bank has no interest in presently. The countries include Suriname, Guyana and Grenada.

NCB Group goes for 62% of Guardian

NCB set to increase shares in Guardian Holdings.

NCB Financial Group announced the launch an offer and take-over bid to acquire up to 74,230,750 ordinary shares in the Trinidad based Guardian Holdings at US$2.35 each, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, NCB Global Holdings Limited.
Guardian Holdings, a publicly-traded company listed on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange, and last traded at TT$16.55 around US$2.45. Guardian has 231,899,986 ordinary shares in issue with NCB Group holding approximately 69,547,241 units acquisition of the stated shares would take their holdings to 62 percent of the company and thus return the company back to Jamaican majority ownership which it had in the 1990s.
The offer, if successful, would result in NCBFG acquiring a controlling 62 percent interest in GHL following the 2016 acquisition of a 29.99 percent interest. Unless extended, the Offer period will close on January 12, 2018. Full acceptance of the Offer would result in a cash payment by NCBFG of the sum of up to approximately US$174,442,262 to the shareholders of GHL who accept the Offer.
Arthur Lok Jack Chairman of Guardian was one of the original sellers of Guardian shares to NCB and would have sold more at the time, but if NCB had acquired more then, it would have triggered the take over bid rule of the TTSE, requiring them to offer to buy the majority.
Guardian Group profit attributable to shareholders for the nine months ended September 2017 amounted to $254 million, a decline of $6 million compared to the corresponding period last year $260 million. NCB Group made profit of $19.1 billion for 2017, up from$14.45 billion in 2016.
The Offer will be conditional upon NCBFG acquiring control of GHL and obtaining regulatory and other approvals required to acquire the GHL Shares in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica as well as all other jurisdictions in which GHL and its subsidiaries are regulated.
According to President and Group CEO Patrick Hylton, “We believe that this partnership will not only support our strategy to expand regionally, but will provide numerous growth opportunities for both NCB and GHL. The successful completion of this Offer will be a significant milestone for our business and we anticipate the great potential that this presents.”
Last week NCB announced the acquisition of the majority stakes in Clarien Bank in Bermuda.